Response Styles in Answering Scale Items By Older Respondents: The Role of Biographical, Contextual and Cultural Aspects
A split-ballot experiment was performed on 397 inhabitants from Dutch senior residences. For two different scales - ‘meaning in life scale’ and ‘self-reliance’- respondents randomly obtained one out of two versions: a scale with positive and negative items combined, or a scale with positively phrased items only. Ten senior residences were selected as to cover different regions in the Netherlands and to obtain a variety in residence size (36 to 335 inhabitants). All 1259 inhabitants were send a questionnaire; resulting in N=397 (31% response); age ranged from 46 to 99 years.
Analysis focused on data quality indicators like straight lining, item non-response, number of valid cases, and further aspects of scale reliability and validity. Differences in response style between age groups were established and explored. First, it is examined whether differences in social biographical characteristics of the age groups are related to response style and whether they can be interpreted as subcultural differences. Second, it is studied whether senior residences with relatively younger versus older populations, show contextual and cultural features that may further explain difference in response style.